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2/16/2010
10:14 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard's Megadeal With Shell Raises Strategic Profile

Will this large, complex, and deeply strategic energy deal help HP shake the tired tag of world's biggest PC maker?

2) Beyond the expertise in energy exploration and location, HP also gains by the acceptance of a wide-ranging set of tools that showcase its breadth, which has been a key strategic point CEO Mark Hurd has made in explaining why HP's broader hardware product line will give it an advantage over IBM and all other IT suppliers (see our column, Hewlett-Packard CEO Hurd's Strategy: The Infrastructure Company). As the press release explains, the new system "will be delivered by HP Enterprise Services and includes a recent breakthrough in high-performance sensing technology from HP Labs . . . and the companys Imaging and Printing Group. Additionally, the system uses HP ProCurve networking products along with HP storage, computation and software products."

But speaking of Hurd's strategic vision for HP: even with a deal this strategic and broad, the company's split personality is highlighted: is HP a PC company that dabbles in the enterprise, or is it an enterprise-strength business-technology powerhouse that just happens to sell PCs? This is a serious image question for HP, and one that we've raised before: what strategic position does HP aspire to claim in the overall tech business?

This identity uncertainty was highlighted in a bullish research report put out by investment advisory service Zacks.com about the HP-Shell dealand remember, this is from a stock-picking outfit that is excited by the deal and what it means for HP's financial prospects. Here's how the Zacks.com report begins:

"The world's largest PC and printer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard Company is in the news for winning a mega deal with oil major Royal Dutch Shell Plc."

So HP wins a hugely strategic deal involving a range of advanced sensing and wireless technologies and spanning much of its extensive product lineyet HP is portrayed as "the world's largest PC and printer manufacturer." Will the real HP please stand up?

Perhaps I'm splitting hairs because what's beyond dispute is that Shell picked HP for an incredibly important project, and Shell didn't let the "world's biggest PC company" label confuse the issue. But inevitably, companies take on reputations and archetypes that can confound reality, and with HP facing steep and intensifying competition in the enterprise IT space from IBM, Dell, Oracle-Sun, Cisco, EMC, and others, it's probably a good time for the company to clarify who it is and how it wants to be known.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Global CIO: Why Hewlett-Packard Must Articulate Its Enterprise Strategy

Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard CEO Hurd's Strategy: The Infrastructure Company

Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard's Hurd Says Bad IT Means A Bad CEO

Global CIO: An Open Letter To Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd

Global CIO: The Top 10 CIO Issues For 2010

Global CIO: Oracle Dumps HP After Co-Creating 'Most Successful Introduction Ever'

Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard Recruits Microsoft To Raid Sun's Customers

Global CIO: Do CIOs Still Matter?

Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard And Oracle Layoffs Are Ugly But Essential

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at bevans@techweb.com.

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